Thursday, 27 October 2011

EU Finance: the Emperor’s New Haircut

The latest in the great Eurozone Crisis Saga.

And what is a haircut, you may ask?

"Gary Jenkins, head of fixed income at Evolution securities, outlined what a haircut would mean for Greek bond holders. ‘It involves a "voluntary" bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional debt held by private sector holders with €30 billion provided by the eurozone member states for credit enhancements, and it aims to reduce Greek debt to 120% by the end of the decade.’" Citywire.

Sounds like more of the usual paper-shuffling and prestidigitation to me.

How about recapitalisation?

"To what extent taxpayers have to plug the gap – and whether state aid rules then kick in – could depend on the timescale banks are given to raise the capital. Huertas told Newsnight that the EFSF would be there as a "last resort". He said: "The plan is for banks to access public markets first," before turning to nation states for support – and then the EFSF." Graun.

Yeah, yeah, yeah ….

Maybe commenter Moggoid sums it up better, over at the Slog: “I stumbled upon this article – tying to find out what “recapitalisation of banks” actually means. And I gather it means that somewhere large amounts of money are found and then just given to the bank – Is that right?”

The banks love the deal, which should make anyone who’s not a banker suspicious. The much-courted and fawned over “Markets”* love the deal - but then they loved the glistening 2000s bubble that preceded the 2008 Crash, didn’t they. So what do they know.

*The "Markets" - basically a bunch of saddoes with nothing better to do than play Crackberry with large numbers and screw the rest of us.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

We Are All Prostitutes

Stuffed with words, words, words, humanity eats itself.

Hearing about experiences at #Occupy gatherings is enough to put anyone off participating. In contrast to much of the modern "Right" which, now it has thrown away that pesky conservative social responsibility, cheerfully celebrates the lowest common denominator of selfishness, aggression and Mammon, the "Left" has a serious existential problem. This problem lies in the paradox of simultaneously being an individual; a human animal with urgent wants, a personal survival instinct, desire to belong, sex and sex drive, an ego, an image, and all the rest that we like to pretend we don't have, but at the same time trying hard to see beyond our selves and our own little in-group to care about fairness, equality and self-determination for everyone.

Trying to reconcile these opposing drives leads to endless, endless argument.

Here's Flavia Dzodan at Tigerbeatdown, on ideological bullying in the Left blog and twittersphere:

"Call out culture, a phenomenon that casual readers might not even notice, is to me, the most toxic aspect of blogging. Not because it is set to correct wrongs and engage in meaningful ways to actually enact change. No, call out culture is toxic because it has developed as a tool to legitimize aggression and rhetoric violence. Its intent, at the root, is seemingly positive. Constructive even. It works more or less like this: I say something ignorant. Perhaps I make a statement that can be constructed as bigoted or maybe “problematic”. A favorite word in call out culture, problematic is more often than not, used to mean “I didn’t like it” or alternatively, “I disagree with you”. But instead of saying you, the audience disagrees with me, you will call my statement “problematic”. And because we have established that we are at once consumers and producers of media content, you create a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook update “calling me out”. And more often than not, in your post, you tell your readers, other prosumers, to please join you in this call out. BECAUSE THIS IS A SERIOUS WRONG THAT NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED! Unbeknown to me, there are now ten posts in ten different blogs and social media platforms calling me a “BIGOT AND THE WORST PERSON EVER”. Each time, every one of these posts escalating in rhetoric and volume. Each new post trying to outperform the previous one in outrage, in anger, in righteousness. This performance of acrimony and reproach turns into the “pile on”. And I will have to apologize for what I said …”

It's back to the dark days of the Soviets and Cultural Revolution.

Hat-tip: Forty Shades of Grey.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Always Check Assumptions

Full Ministry of Justice statistics on the cohort arrested in connection with Augusts's English riots offer considerable support to the analysis coming from the liberal left at the time, namely that rioters were, in the main, directionless, alienated and deprived youth.

"The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Home Office background analysis shows that those arrested during the riots overwhelmingly came from deprived areas and had the poorest educational backgrounds." Guardian.

"More than one in 10 of the young people appearing before courts had been permanently excluded - [whereas] the figure drops to 0.1% among all those aged 15." BBC.

So far, so obvious.


Now, I've not seen the report itself, but it seems that (at least) one major assumption is built into this, an assumption which must skew the figures quite radically; MoJ analysts apparently assume that the sample of those arrested is automatically representative of all those taking part. If anything, the converse seems more likely to me, and that those caught by the authorities are not a representative sample, but simply those less able and less practised in escape and evasion.

Not very scientific.

Update from John Robb: US gang membership is now estimated 40% higher than in 2009, and the combined factors of high unemployment with all these elective overseas oil wars and their inevitable product - returning, often traumatised and uncared for combat veterans who can see little or no future - is not a happy prospect, to judge from past history. 

So maybe it's a bit too soon to get complacent about gangs and organised crime.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Neither Left nor Right but Realism

So says Prof Steve Keen in addressing Occupy Sydney's last public event before the attempted suppression of dissent there. See video here. Unlike many other countries, Oz protesters were actually at the national Reserve Bank of Australia. Some of the usual suspects have suggested that the network of Central Reserve Banks is the most appropriate focus for blame, and reformation, in connection with the ongoing global crisis - now termed the "late-2000s financial crisis" by Wikipedia - yes, this Crisis keeps on growing bigger and deeper!

"[P]rotesters have joined Harvard law professor and Creative Commons board member Lawrence Lessig's call for a convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution made at a September 24–25, 2011 conference co-chaired by the Tea Party Patriots' national coordinator, in Lessig's October 5 book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It, and at the Occupy protest in Washington, DC ..." Wikipedia entry on the Occupy Movement, 23/10/11.

"Vas Littlecrow, a tea party die-hard since the movement’s early days, let the Internet noise about Occupy Wall Street wash over her, leaving her alternately annoyed and intrigued. She went on Google Plus to debate the Occupiers, “and they started saying things that clicked with me,” she said. “This was deja vu with how I got into the tea party” ..." Read more at the Washington Post article "For Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, some Common Ground."

This is not a simplistic Left/Right issue, however much some of our leaders, with their customary divide and rule strategy, might like to make us believe it.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Amabhulu Anyama Asenzeli Iworry

"How can you claim to be a private citizen?” he fumed. “There is nothing like that. South Africa is ruled by the ANC. We all belong to the ANC, like it or not!” Comrade Mayor, South Africa 2011.

"There is something wrong that is happening in this country. That is not what we struggled for.” Archbishop Tutu, 2009.

The Archbishop's latest run-in with the ANC State, over the Dalai Lama being refused entry to South Africa, ought to have drawn quite a bit of unwanted high profile attention to that country's growing deficit in the values of freedom that the self-styled "Rainbow Nation" was once claimed to uphold.

When are those in the international community who supported the fight against Apartheid going to wake up to what's really being done in the ANC State now. As Pedro Alexis Tabensky wrote in February this year: "The poor are steadily getting angrier and they are preparing for something. They have relatively little to lose, except the hope that drives their movements, informed predominantly by desire for justice for those who are systematically dehumanized in our country today."

Toussaint Losier in a detailed piece from "Left Turn" further explains: "[O]nce elected, the ANC government failed to live up to its campaign promises, as commitments to neoliberal trade agreements and the paying-off of apartheid-era debt quickly overruled its social democratic proposals. In 1996, the ANC reiterated earlier agreements with South African capital and the International Monetary Fund by formally adopting the Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy as its economic program."

"Reflecting a neoliberal approach to development, GEAR has promoted market deregulation, fiscal discipline, wage restraints, and the privatization of government services. In place of redistributive policies, GEAR relies on foreign direct investment and integration into the world market to ‘trickle down’ benefits to the poor and working class. As a result, the government has largely relied on bank-financing and private construction firms to meet the vast housing backlog."

With the new South Africa looking like a very scary chimaera of totalitarianism and neo-liberalism, little wonder then that it also presents naturally fertile ground for the blossoming #occupy global movement.

"We will occupy Grahamstown in the name of freedom. We insist that all people have the right to organise themselves according to their own free choices. We denounce the ANC for the murder of Andries Tatane and all the others. We denounce the ANC for the repression of the Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Landless People's Movement, the Anti-Eviction Campaign and all the others. We denounce the ANC for their attempts to censor the media. We denounce the ANC for continuing to claim that the movements of the poor are a Third Force. The ANC insult us by making us live like pigs and excluding us from all decision making and then, when we rebel, they insult us again by saying that it must be a white academic that is making us rebel. The ANC is incapable of understanding that poor black people can, like all other people, think for ourselves. The ANC is incapable of understanding that they do not and have never had a monopoly on struggle. The ANC is incapable of understanding that they are the real counter-revolutionaries."

From the Unemployed People's Movement Press Statement, 13th October 2011
@ Abahlali baseMjondolo

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Post Dialectic

There is a theory that the rise in extremist religiosity and fundamentalism is actually a form of fearful defensive reaction to the secular decline in the credibility of religious ideologies and belief systems.

At a time when the Saudi monarch is coming under carefully enunciated backlash for attempting even a slight loosening of restrictions against women there, religious fundamentalists in the US are regularly snatching headlines, and some police seem to be feeling that they have a kind of license to go around laying down dress codes for American women, not unlike the religious policemen of the Middle East.

But there is cause for optimism that, in the longer run, sanity will win out and the Taliban, Dominionists and neoCons alike are just the last desperate gasp of fanatics, and that the days of enforced institutional religious enthusiasm could indeed be numbered.

“The US is increasingly portrayed as a hotbed of religious fervour. Yet in the homeland of ostentatiously religious politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, agnostics and atheists are actually part of one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US: the godless. Far from being in thrall to its religious leaders, the US is in fact becoming a more secular country, some experts say. "It has never been better to be a free-thinker or an agnostic in America," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) …” Read more.